The Power of Giving

Teju “Babyface” Oyelakin is one of the leading talk show hosts in Nigeria. He first came into the limelight when he played the role of Chidi in Tade Ogidan’s Diamond Ring. However, he had his major break through his acclaimed Teju Babyface Show. He is a United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Ambassador for Nigeria on Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Teju’s achievements didn’t come overnight. In his TV mentorship series “Secrets of the Streets”, he told the story of how the Teju Babyface Show began. At a particularly frustrating stage of his career, when he couldn’t break into the top bracket of comedians in Nigeria, he got a call one morning from an ‘arrogant’ lady to serve as the Master of Ceremonies at a company’s event the next day. Considering the short notice, Teju assumed the company would be willing to pay more so he charged thrice his usual fee. To his disappointment, however, the lady insisted on an amount that was lesser than his usual fee. Nevertheless, he accepted the offer because he felt the urge to do so and he didn’t have a better use for his time anyway.

Teju arrived at the company the next day and noticed the latest editions of Lexus and Mercedes-Benz cars at the car park. When he was introduced to the Managing Director (MD) of the company, he couldn’t help but ask if the MD owned one of the cars. It turned out that he owned the two cars. They discussed for a few minutes about cars and Teju was led to the place of his assignment. The MD was so impressed with Teju’s performance that two weeks later, he called him to compere a private event, for which Teju rejected the offer to be paid.  After doing an excellent job at that event, the MD invited him to his office the next day. He said Teju was perhaps more gifted than several celebrity comedians of the time but his gift was not being put to the best use. So he asked Teju if he had greater plans. After discussing the idea of the TV show with the MD, Teju received a cheque that was 10 times more than he would have received if he had charged for the event. Here is what we can learn about the power of giving:

  1. Give humility: From the story, I’d say Teju’s ego was bruised twice- when he was contacted late and when he was under-priced. A natural reaction would have been to reject the offer. However, celebrities who reject offers do so because they are already engaged or they think it is not worth their while; they have better options. Ego shouldn’t be a reason to reject opportunities. When you give humility, you get opportunities. (More to come)